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Sunday, October 7, 2012

40+ Days of Fun!

This is a photo from our very first practice on January 9.  We began with just 7 sleds and  all 7 were used.  We now have 20 sleds, and 18 registered athletes.

One of the goals of becoming an official Paralympic Sport Club is to have at least 40 days where your organization does something as an organization, or sends people to represent your organization in an official manner.  The Junior Reign Sled Hockey team made the goal of doing 40 activities that would count as such activities in 2012.  We are happy to say that we have surpassed that already, and it's only October!

First, we have already held 20 team practices at LA Kings Icetown.  We officially started our program on January 9, 2012, and we have faithfully held practices every other Monday ever since, even during the summer.  We have plans for at least 5 more practices this year, through December.

Those practices will be October 15, 29, November 12, 26, and December 10.


These two photos are from a recent practice. We now have equal numbers of kids and adults.  

In addition to those practices, we held the very first officially registered sled hockey game in California on June 9 at LA Kings Icetown.  For that game, we combined our U-18 players with some of Oxnard's U-18 players to form "Team SoCal."  We played against Oakland's players (all of them are U-18).  Special jerseys were made for the event, and even though Oakland's team beat us 2-1, we had a very fun time and realized the magnitude of what happened that night.  Oakland has asked us out for a rematch, so if we can squeeze that in before the end of the year, that will be one more day of activities; or, if we can't squeeze it in for 2012, it will go in our 2013 activities.

This is a photo from the very first registered game.  Notice the spiffy California jerseys.  
We also sent players to a few events outside of California.  We sent two athletes to the Disabled Hockey Festival in Dallas from April 13-15.  One of the members played as an added athlete on Florida's Space Coast Hurricanes team, and the other player played with the Dasa Blues team from St. Louis.  We have plans to send as many athletes as we can afford (and want to go) to the Disabled Hockey Festival in 2013 in Philadelphia, and we are currently fundraising to make this a reality.  In addition, we sent one player to USA Hockey's Sled Select Camp from July 7-12 in Buffalo, NY.  He has designs of one day being on the US National team, and we sent him so he could learn more intensively and also check out the competition and see how good he'll have to be to make it on the team.  

Clinics!  We had clinics this year at our rink (on July 21), at Oxnard's rink (on January 28 and July 13), at Bakersfield's rink (on January 29), and at Cathedral City's rink (on July 22).  The clinic at our rink, of course, was to increase exposure of sled hockey to our community, and to recruit new players.  That was covered in the Riverside Press Enterprise here.  We sent athletes and brought helmets and pads to the clinics at the other rinks so we could help them get their programs off the ground so we would have people to play.

These two photos are from our clinic in July.  USA Hockey sent out Jen Lee to help us conduct the clinic, along with 24 loaner sleds for that day.  

In addition, we have been very aggressive in getting the word out about sled hockey in Southern California.  In addition to speaking at the Riverside Optimists Club, and the Riverside Rotary Club, we also had publicity booths or passed out materials at the Ms. Wheelchair California competition in March, The Abilities Expo in April, the Spina Bifida Assn Walk and Roll Kickoff in July, The Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative in September, the Loma Linda Veterans Assn. "Welcome Home" event in September, and the DisAbilities Sports Festival in October.

Our booth at the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative.
As a team, we also had a float in the Corona 4th of July Parade, and we had team members hand out stickers to the people attending the parade.  We thought 1,000 stickers would be plenty, but it turned out that we barely had enough to give stickers to a fraction of the attendees.  If we do it again next year, we'll need more items to hand out for sure!
The group, including Coach Dave and Coach Andrew, who came out for the Corona 4th of July Parade.

We also had a very special event where the San Bernardino Eagles Lodge hosted a bingo night in our honor, and our team got the proceeds.

Finally, we are sending one of our coaches to Orlando to USA Hockey's Sled Hockey Workshop on October 12-13.  We had plans to play at a Kings Game and a Phoenix Coyotes Game (against the Phoenix Coyotes Sled Hockey Team) before the year was up, but due to the NHL lockout, those plans are on hold for the time being.

So, now it's time to do the math!

20 practices + 5 upcoming practices + 1 game + 9 days of travel to sled hockey events for some of our players + 5 clinics + 8 publicity events + 1 parade + 1 Eagles fundraiser +  2 days of coaches training = at least 52 events we've either already done or plan to do in 2012.  So much for our 40 day goal!


Coming up in 2013, in addition to our practices and the Disabled Hockey Festival already mentioned above, we want to play at least one or two more games with Oakland's team, and play in a tournament with the team in Phoenix.  We hope the NHL and the Players Assn. will settle their differences so we can play at a Kings Game during an intermission.  We also plan to hold one or two clinics of our own, and help other emerging teams by helping them with their clinics as well.  Through it all, we plan to continue publicizing and grow our team so that we will have two or three fully functioning competitive teams (at least an kids team and an adults team, and maybe an extra less-competitive adults team for those who do not want to travel as much).  We hope to send two or more players to the 2013 Sled Select Camp.  We also know that other opportunities will come up and we'll tackle them as they come.  If 2012 has been a busy year, 2013 is shaping up to be even busier!

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